Dreams take flight

Ben Krause with shoes he designed

An avid runner since high school and a member of the College of Design’s first graduating class of product design majors, Ben Krause ’18 (Lombard, IL) spent every spare moment of his senior year designing shoes—some for class projects, and some just for fun. 

His hard work paid off when his rendering of a mid-top shoe with an innovative lacing system was chosen as one of the nation’s top 64 designs in the Pensole World Sneaker Championship.

Krause started out as a mechanical engineering major, but a toy design course got him interested in inventing new products.

“Product design is an opportunity to be incredibly creative but also solve actual problems,” he says.

After he switched his major, Krause immersed himself in his new field and gained real-world experience during internships. As an intern at HAVI in Downers Grove, Illinois, for example, he spent a week watching people eat pancakes as part of a study on a fast food chain’s redesigned packaging.

“The amount of thought and work that goes into a piece of cardboard is amazing,” Krause says.

Since graduating, Krause has continued to pursue and practice shoe design, and recently started as a footwear design intern at Timberland.

He was also recently awarded third prize in the Xingshi Cup International Industrial Design Competition, which comes with a trip to China, where Krause will be headed later this month to meet with manufacturers and developers.

“Having the opportunity to work on a product that I could then see on the shelf or see someone use is so exciting to me,” he says.

Before long, he may just get his wish.


Lead photo by Liz Banfield. A version of this story was originally published in the U of M Foundation's Legacy magazine.

a u of m themed shoe
Krause even created a U of M-themed shoe based on his winning design from the Pensole competition.

“Throughout the competition I received a lot of support from the College of Design and I wanted to make something to express my pride and gratitude for the University,” says Krause.
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